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Bodhayana the Vrttikara – Part Three

Continued from Part Two

The Outlook of Bodhayana

1.1. In the earlier part, we talked about the fragments of Bodhayana Vrtti as quoted in Sri Ramanuja’s Sribhashya – his commentary on the Brahma Sutras. And as said, even though Bodhayana the Vrttikara is quoted only about seven times in Sribhashya, each of those fragments expresses an aspect of Bodhayana’s thought.

Based on those fragments, let’s try to reconstruct Bodhayana’s thoughts.

1.2. Both Sri Sankara and Sri Ramanuja frequently refer to a Vrttikara.  It is, somehow, presumed that both the Acharyas refer to one and the same Vrttikara, that is, Bodhayana.  But, the difference is that whenever Sri Sankara quotes the commentator (vrttikara) he does not mention his name, and he also does not quote him fully. He usually summarizes and adduces them as being the differing theories or the stand of the opponent (Purva-paksha). And, whenever Sri Sankara cites Upavarsha, he mentions the Vrttikara by his name addressing him with great respect as Bhagavan (the revered) and treats him as the elder of his own tradition.

In a similar manner, Sri Ramanuja does not mention   the Vrttikara Upavarsha. But, he treats Bodhayana with great respect addressing him as Bhagavad, the Divine. And, he quotes the views of Bodhayana from the fragments of Bodhayana Vrtti as the authority. He reckons Bodhayana as the foremost among his Purva-charyas the revered Masters of his tradition.

It is, therefore, presumed that Sri Sankara was closer to Upavarsha; and that Sri Ramanuja followed Bodhayana.

[Some critics have however pointed out that the arguments of the Vrttikara rejected by Sri Sankara are not exactly the same as the ones quoted by Sri Ramanuja. And, they wonder whether the Acharyas could be referring to different Vrttikaras..!.?

It is also said that, over a long period, since many scholars went by the name of Baudhayana or Bodhayana, the Vrttikara Bodhayana quoted by Sri Ramanuja could be quite different from the Bodhayana to whom Sri Sankara is presumed to have referred. ]

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2.1. Since Bodhayana is often addressed as Vrttikara, the commentator (sometimes without mentioning his name), it is evident that his authority was accepted by the later generations of Vedanta Schools. Generally, the views of Bodhayana are believed to go along with that of Brahma sutra.. Based on that, it is said that Bodhayana was surely closer to Sri Ramanuja than to Sri Sankara.

 Following  Sri Ramanuja, all his descendents in his line (Parampara) and all the followers of his School regard Bodhayana as an authority, next only to Badarayana the author of Brahma Sutra.  Accordingly, the Sri Vaishnava tradition reveres the commentary of Bodhayana as almost the Scripture.

2.2. Bodhayana, no doubt, was a faithful commentator (Vrttikara) of the Sutras. He tried to stay close to the words of the Brahma Sutra; and, did not seem to come up with original or fresh theories of his own. His comments are cogent and stay close to the point. Bodhayana appears to have been essentially a theist; and, his views, generally, were closer to those of Sri Ramanuja and Sri Bhaskara.

2.3. Obviously, Bodhayana   held the scriptures in great esteem. He emphasized the absolute sacredness of the Vedas. According to him, the scriptures are not open to criticism of human speculation.”We can understand the meaning of what is handed down by the scriptures; but, we cannot question scriptures” (Fragment: 13)

 2.4. He stayed close to the   Mimamsa faith according to which, Sruti that which is heard or is of divine origin cannot be questioned. But, it is only in Smrti, that which is remembered or the works authored by humans, there is a possibility of offering varied interpretations.

2.5. To revere and explain the scriptures was, for him, the highest duty. He thought that each word and each phrase of the scripture merited study with complete attention. Accordingly, his special area was commenting on the scriptures. Since commenting necessarily involves taking a certain intellectual stand and adopting a certain philosophical view, there is a particular world-view running through his commentaries.

2.6, Bodhayana was essentially a theist.  His views, generally, differ from that of Sri Sankara; but, are closer to that of Sri Ramanuja. And, Sri Ramanuja paid greater respect to his views; and, cited them as authorities.

3.1. Bodhayana, as reflected in his explanations quoted by Sri Ramanuja, laid equal importance of Jnana and Karma Kanda-s of the Mimamsa. According to him, the two segments – Purva and Uttara – of the Mimamsa together constituted the doctrinal system (Shastraikatva).  And, because of that, perhaps, he wrote commentaries on both the Purva and Uttara Mimamsa.  

3.2. He held the view that directly after completing the rituals one should take up the investigation into Brahman, which is the study of Vedanta. His position was coined by the later Vedanta Schools as jnana-karma-samucchaya-vada, the doctrine that synthesizes Jnana and Karma. Sri Ramanuja too was a votary of Samucchaya-vada.   Sri Sankara who did not accord much significance to rituals, naturally, tended to differ from Bodhayana.

Besides, Bodhayana does not discuss or even mention the concept of Maya. He strongly refuted the Vijnanavada theory which reduces the objects of the material world merely to the status of dream experiences.

4.1. As regards his views on the God, Bodhayana appears to have been a theist.  For him, the individual soul (Jiva) and God were not exactly identical. God for him is the infinity Bhuman for which the individual soul aspires.    And, the importance of Bhakthi as service and as absolute surrender to God was stressed by him.

4.2. According to Sri Ramanuja’s account, Bodhayana took Para Brahman, the Supreme Brahman, as the absolute principle. And, in Bodhayana’s view Brahman is identical with Lord (Isha), the Supreme Lord (Parameshwara).It is the source, the womb of all matter (bhuta yoni). Thus, Brahman, besides being the personified God, is also the cause (sarva-vikara-karana) from which everything evolves (parinama paksha). It is also the Atman of all things; the God that dwells within everything (sarva-bhutha-antaratman), controlling and directing them. Sri Ramanuja extended it further; and said that Brahman has all the spiritual and physical existence as his body.

Bodhayana, however, does not seem to attribute Brahman with a body (vigrahavat). But, somehow, he appeared to believe in the Upanishad description of Brahman with four feet (chatush paada).It is not clear in which sense he understood it.

5.1. As regards the individual self (Jiva) , Bodhayana thought that it has two aspects. One is the gross body (sthulam sariram) which we experience ordinarily, and which perishes at its death.  And the other is the subtle body (sukshmam sariram) composed of extremely fine elements, and which is not visible to naked eye. At the death of the physical body, the subtle body that was hitherto enwrapped in it moves and eventually sets up the next gross body. That is to say, sukshmam sariram is the seed of the body that manifests. Thus, subtle body is un-manifest (a-vyakta), while the gross body is manifest (vyakta).

5.2.According to Bodhayana, in state of deep sleep the individual self is united with Brahman as existence, Sat; and, on waking it gets separated. This seems nearer to the explanation offered by Uddalaka Aruni (Chandogya Upanishad: 6.8.1), and to the Brahma Sutra.

6.1. Bodhayana believed that the state of ‘bondage and final release (bandha –moksha) ’is more aptly related to the subtle body, and to its activities. And, therefore, the subtle body is superior (para) to the embodied self (sarira) which is ‘feeble in power’ (tanumahiman). This, in a way, is closer to the Samkhya view of Purusha; but, it markedly differed from the view taken by Brahma sutra.

6.2. As for the final release, Bodhayana believed that the individual self eventually unites with Brahman.  But, the release comes in stages. And, even after full release (Moksha), the individual self retains its identity but without the false sense of ego; and, does not entirely merge with Brahman. And, even after attaining Moksha, it does not acquire the power to create, to preserve and to withdraw the manifest world. Therefore, even in the state of final release, the individual self and the Supreme self are not entirely identical.

Following that, Sri Ramanuja explained Moksha as a state of blessedness in the company of the Highest Being (Paramatman). Sri Ramanuja emphasized the importance of Bhakthi, absolute devotion, and Parapatti complete surrender to the will of the Supreme, making oneself worthy of His grace, as the best means to attain salvation.

7.1. Sri Sankara and Sri Ramanuja apart from their doctrinal differences on the question of Duality and Non-duality also seemed to differ in their approach to Brahma Sutra and in treatment of the Purva and Uttara Mimamsa of the Vedanta School.

7.2. At the outset, it seems   Sri Ramanuja treated the Brahma Sutra as the basic text and interpreted it in the light of the comments and explanations offered in the Vritti of Bodhayana, other Vrttikaras, Vakyakaras and the revered Masters of his tradition (Purva-charyas).  He also seemed to support the view that the Purva and Uttara Mimamsa together formed one text. And that he believed in the coordinated union of Jana and Karma. Sri Ramanuja is said to be   much closer to the Brahma Sutras in its literal interpretation.

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The approach of Sri Sankara

Shankarar - Smarta Tradition Deities

The approach of Sri Sankara to the Upanishads in general and to the Brahma Sutra in particular presents a very interesting and a striking contrast.

8.1. Upanishads

(a) Sri Sankara regards himself as the votary of Upanishads (Aupanishada).He even calls his way of thinking or the doctrine as Aupanishadam Darshanam, the Upanishad System. He defines the Upanishads as the texts that lead the aspirants close to the highest reality. He said, the primary meaning of the word Upanishad was knowledge, while the secondary meaning was the text itself.

He insists Upanishads constitute the final purpose and the import of the Vedic lore; and that is the reason he chose to write commentaries on the Upanishads and on the other two texts that depend almost entirely on the Upanishads – Badarayana’s Brahma Sutra and the Bhagavad Gita. While doing so, he isolates Upanishad portion of the Vedic lore from the rest and narrows down the scriptural authority to ten or twelve ancient Upanishads.

(b) According to him, the goal held out by the Upanishad tradition is liberation (Moksha) from worldly involvements. Sri Sankara described himself as Moksha-vadin (Sarvesham Mokshavadi – nama-abhyupagam- VSB: 2.1.11; and, Sarve Mokshavadi abhirbhyupa gamyate: VSB: 1.1.4)

(c) Sri Sankara strongly advocated study of Upanishads; and at the same time cautioned that study of Upanishad alone would not lead to Moksha. He also recognized that the study of Upanishads is not absolutely necessary or is it a pre-condition for attainment of Moksha. The function of knowledge as expounded in the Upanishads, he said, is the removal of obstacles; but, it has its own limitations.

As regards the limitations of textual knowledge, he explained: Moksha is not the fruit or the effect of knowledge (jnana). Liberation being identical with Brahman is ever present, eternal and is beyond the subject-object relations. So long as such distinctions  of subject –object, the knower and the known  are maintained there can be no experience of non-distinction or oneness of Reality. The texts can only contribute to causing the discovery of truth; leaving the truth to assert itself (svapramanya).

Sri Sankara declares the supremacy of direct experience, the final proof (antya-pramanam) which he calls – anubhava, avagati or Brahmavagati. Regarded in its true essence and as it is, Atmaikatva, Brahmatvatva, or Sarvatmata is a self-conscious, self-radiant experience which cannot be taken as object (vishaya). He also says that Vedic authority is not binding after one attains the goal

(d)  He pointed out; even those who were outside the Upanishad fold were as eligible to Moksha as those within the fold were. He declared that all beings are Brahman, and therefore the question of discrimination did not arise. All that one was required to do was to get rid of Avidya (duality).

8.2. Mimamsa

(a) As regards the Mimamsa, Sri Sankara’s basic position was that the Mimamsa Sutra which commences with the statement Atato Dhrama jijnasa is quite separate from the Brahma Sutra commencing with Atato Brahmajijnasa.  Sri Sankara’s Shatra-aramba refers to the beginning of the Brahma sutra; and not to Mimamsa that covered both Purva and Uttara. He does not use the terms Purva Mimamsa or Uttara -Mimamsa.  He preferred to present his commentary as Vedanta-mimamsa.

 Sri Sankara did not seem to regard Brahma Sutra as a latter part of the same text. He regards Brahma Sutra as a separate shastra (prathak-shastra), distinct  from Purva Mimamsa.  He maintained that the two systems are addressed to different class of persons.

Purva Mimamsa which deals with Karma-kanda consists injunctions to act in order to achieve certain results. But, he argues, liberation is not a product or a thing to be achieved.

And, Jnana-kanda, in contrast, is about Brahman that already exists; it pertains to the ultimate purpose which is true knowledge of Self, and it is addressed to one who is intent on liberation.  

 Each section of Veda is valid in its own sphere; but, the two sections cannot logically be bound together.

(c) He said The two texts are distinguishable in four ways: Vishaya (subject); Adhikara (qualifications for the aspirant); Phala (end result or the objective) ; and, Sambhanda ( related-ness) .

: – Vishaya: the subject matter of  Karma-kanda is Dharma which is understood by it as ritual-action. Mimasakas hold the view that the real purport of the scriptures was to provide injunctions (vidhi) and prohibitions (nishedha) . The scriptural injunctions regarding rituals  are treated as mandatory;  while  the texts that relate to wisdom as  spill – over (sesha).

Sri Sankara said, the subject of Jnana-kanda is Brahman. And, knowing Brahman, he asserted , is the real purpose of all  scriptures.  Sri Sankara averred the true intent of the scriptures was to describe the Reality as it is. Sri Sankara rejected the Mimamsa view and argued that scripture were not mandatory in character, at least where it concerned pursuit of wisdom. Upanishads, he remarked, dealt with Brahman and that Brahman could not be a subject matter (Vishaya) of injunction and prohibitions.

 : – Adhikara: Aspirant in the Karma-kanda has limited ambitions; and, is yet to understand the limitations of the results achieved by Karman.  The aspirant of the Jnana-kanda, however, is well aware of the limits of the results achieved by Karman; and, there about fore , seeks the limitless Brahman.

Sri Sankara mentions fourfold Adhikara or qualifications of  an ardent student of Vedanta : Nitya-anitya-vastu- viveka (capacity to discriminate the real from the transitory); Vairagya (Dispassion); Samadi Shatka Sampatti (Six virtues of the mind : Sama-equanimity; Dama-control over senses including mind; Uparama -observing one’s Svadharma; Titiksha – patience, forbearance; Samadhanam– profound absorption or contemplation;  and , Shraddha – absolute  faith or devotion).

: – Phala: Karma-kanda aspires for worldly prosperity and heavenly pleasures. The aim of Jnana-kanda, he said, is liberation (Moksha). Further, he pointed out that Brahma Sutra says (3.5.36-37) even those who do not perform rituals are qualified to gain knowledge.

In Sri Sankara’s view the passages in the Karma –kanda informs us of the approved means for attaining desirable and yet unaccomplished ends. The Upanishads (jnana-kanda), on the other hand, reveal to us knowledge of the ever present entity – Brahman.

He pointed out that rituals could in no way bring about wisdom, much less Moksha.. He asserted, while the rewards (phala) of the rituals were not matter of direct experience, wisdom which is the fruit of Vedanta is based on immediate and personal experience; one need not have to wait for the reward nor one be in doubt whether the reward would or would not come.

This was in sharp contrast to the position taken by Mimamsakas who believed that rituals alone would lead one to higher levels of attainment. Further, the deities would reward only those entitled to perform the rituals alone. The entitlement involved the caste, creed and other parameters.

: – Sambandha: Karma-kanda informs of the ends not yet in existence; but is yet to be achieved. The realization of such ends depends upon following the appropriate action as prescribed. 

The subject of Jnana-kanda is that which is eternal without a beginning or end. The knowledge of Brahman is end itself, where there is an identity of the revealed object (Sadhya) and the means of revelation (Sadhana) . Jnana-kanda is fulfillment; Karma –kanda is impetus to act more and more.

8.3. the Brahma Sutras,

Sri Sankara held the Brahma Sutra in very high regard; and yet, he does not take them as the original or independent texts equal in authority to the Upanishads. He takes the Brahma Sutras as expository or highly abridged indicators to the crucial passages from Upanishads. He claims that Badarayana’s text is in fact a summary of the philosophy of Upanishads. The philosophy of Brahma Sutra is indeed the philosophy of the Upanishads.

Sri Sankara undertakes to interpret Badarayana’s Brahma Sutra not as in end by itself, but in order to expound through it what he understood as the philosophy of Upanishads. He asserts they are not his own; but, are the true and proper import of the Vedic texts as   held and nurtured by the tradition to which he belongs. It is only that he is re-stating them and putting forth a little more clearly.

The Sutras of Badarayana according to Sri Sankara have one purpose; that is to string together the flowers (cardinal themes) of Vedanta Akyas (sentences) – Vedanta –akya-kusumagratanat vat sutranam (BB .1.1.2)

It was the words and the ideas of the Upanishad texts that, primarily, guided Sri Sankara and not the Sutras per se. This did not mean an encroachment upon the authority of Badarayana whom he revered as Bhagavan; but, it was only to bring out his intentions more clearly. 

For Sri Sankara, the Brahma Sutras derive their authority from the original Upanishads; and, therefore the meaning of the Sutras will have to be understood and interpreted in the light of the Upanishad texts. And at places , Sankara’s interpretations seem to be far-fetched This is in contrast to Sri Ramanuja’s approach that followed the Vrttis of Bodhayana and other Acharyas, the Masters of his tradition. Sri Ramanuja was much closer to Brahma Sutras in its literal interpretation.

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9.1. The overview seems to be that the Brahma Sutras are open to multiple interpretations; and, each interpretation is valid in its own context.

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Sources and References

  1. A History of Early Vedanta Philosophy, Part 2 by Prof. Hajime Nakamura
  2. Sri Sankara and Adhyasa-Bhashya by Prof. S. K. Ramachandra Rao (2002)
  3. Brahma Sutras According to Sri Sankara by Swami Vireswarananda

 http://www.wisdomlib.org/hinduism/book/brahma-sutras/d/doc62756.html

  1. Spiritual Freedom in the Brahma Sutras by Carol Pitts, Les Morgan
  2. The Vedanta Philosophy of Sankaracharya: Crest-Jewel of Wisdom, Atma BodhaBy Charles Johnston
  3. The Vedanta-sutras with the Sri-bhashya of Ramanujacharya;translated into English by M. Rangacharya, andM. B. Varadaraja Aiyangar; Volume I; published by the Brahmavidin Press.; 1899

http://www.yousigma.com/biographies/vedasutraswithsribhashya.pdf

 
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Bodhayana the Vrttikara – Part Two

Continued from Part One

 Bodhayana the Vrttikara

1.1. It is said Bodhayana the Vrttikara had written commentaries on   all the twenty parts of Mimamsa, covering both the Purva and Uttara Mimamsa.  It is also said that his commentary on Brahma Sutra (Brahma–sutra Vrtti), in particular, was quite detailed. Since the commentaries covered both karma and Jnana kanda-s, Bodhayana was respected as an adept in both aspects of Mimamsa.

1.2. Bodhayana is regarded amongst the early commentator on Brahma Sutra; and one who came to be recognized as an authority by generations of commentators that followed him. It had profound influence on the followers of his doctrine.

1.3. All the works ascribed to Bodhayana are dispersed and lost; and none is available now. It seems that fragments of his Brahma Sutra Vritti were extant till about the 11th century. But, his commentaries on Mimamsa Sutra were lost much earlier; and had passed out of existence by the time of Kumarila Bhatta (Ca. 700 A D).

2.1. As Sri Ramanuja (1017–1137 A D) was preparing to write his Bhashya (detailed commentary) on the Brahma Sutras, he wished to consult the Brahma–Sutra-Vrtti of Bodhayana. The text ascribed to Bodhayana had the reputation of being the most authoritative explanation of the Brahma Sutras, based in a philosophy of theism, which was also the way Sri Ramanuja understood the Upanishads. But, the work of Bodhayana was not available anywhere in South India. It seems that even Yamunacharya the predecessor of Ramanuja had not seen a copy of Bodhayana Vrtti.

2.2. When he learnt that fragments of Bodhayana’s Brahma-Sutra-Vrtti were available in Kashmir, Sri Ramanuja who by then was past sixty years of age set out on a long and an hazardous journey, with a small band of disciples, from Sri Rangam in deep South to Srinagar up North in the foothills of the Himalayas, a straight-distance of more than 3, 300 KMs. But, the route taken by Sri Ramanuja and his disciples was much circuitous. They are said to have travelled up from the western coastal belt of India to the eastern regions of Puri,  Kasi, Naimish-aranya, Varanasi,  Salagrama in Nepal;  then West to Dwaraka, Pushkaram , on to Bhatti (near Lahore) and finally into the Himalayan districts of Kashmir valley.

2.3. It is said; once in Srinagar (Kashmir) Sri Ramanuja had considerable difficulty in tracing the copy of Bodhayana’s Vrtti. It was finally located in the State Library. But, the Library authorities allowed him to read it within the premises of the Library; and, they did not permit him to take the fragmented old text out of the Library. Then, it is said, Sri Ramanuja’s   disciple Sri Kuresa (Kurattalvan or Srivatsanka Misra) gifted with remarkable memory-power memorized the complete text of Bhodayana’s Brahma Sutra Vrtti written in the ancient document.

2.4. Obviously, what Sri Ramanuja read and what Sri Kuresa memorized was the abridged (Sanskiptha) version of Bodhayana Vrtti. And, Sri Ramanuja based his commentary of Brahma Sutra (Sri Bhashya) on the explanations given in that abridged version.

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3.1. In the opening verse of Sri Bhashya, Sri Ramanuja says:  ‘The previous Masters have abridged (purvacharyah samskipuh) the detailed commentary on Brahma sutra which had been composed by Bhagavad Bodhayana (Bhagavad Bhodayana kritam vistirnam Brahma-sutra – vrttim). The words of the Sutra will be explained (sutraksarani vyakhyasyante) in accordance with their views and traditions (tan-mata-anusarena).

Bhagavad Bhodayana kritam vistirnam Brahma-sutra – vrttim purvacharyah samskipuh I tan-mata-anusarena sutraksarani vyakhyasyante II

3.2. Apart from the excerpts quoted by Sri Ramanuja nothing else of Bodhayana Vrtti is extant today. The Bodhayana Vrtti or what has remained of it is traditionally respected by the followers of Sri Ramanuja. And, their tradition regards Bodhayana second only to the author of Brahma Sutra (Badarayana).

3.3. In the Sri Bhashya of Sri Ramanuja, Bodhayana is generally addressed as Vrttikara, the commentator. Sri Ramanuja quoted seven comments / explanations of the Vrttikara Bodhayana; and, these are his only words that have survived.  Even though those fragments are few in number, each of them expresses a special point of Bodhayana’s thought.

3.4. As regards the Purva-charyas, the elders of his tradition, who are said to have abridged (purvacharyah samskipuh) the detailed commentary on Brahma sutra which had been composed by Bhagavad Bodhayana (Bhagavad Bhodayana kritam vistirnam Brahma-sutra – vrttim), we do not know exactly who they were. But, in another context Sri Ramanuja mentions the Purva-charyas of his tradition. It is not clear whether the two sets of Purva-charyas were the same or were different.

Purva-charyas

4.1. In his Vedartha-samgraha, Sri Ramanuja mentions the names of six teachers of Vedanta who are said to have expounded the philosophy akin to Vishishta-advaita: 1. Bodhayana; 2. Tanka; 3. Dramida; 4. Guhadeva; 5. Kapardi; and, 6. Bharuci.

Bhagavad Bodhayana- Tanaka- Dramida- Guhadeva- Kapardi – Baruchi – prabhrty- avigita-sista- parigrahita-puratana – Veda-Vedanta- vyakhyana-suvyaktar-thasrutinikaranidarshito-yam- panthah I

This path is declared in many Srutis, whose meaning has been made very clear by the ancient commentators on Veda and Vedanta, accepted by Masters such as Bhagavad Bodhayana- Tanaka- Dramida- Guhadeva- Kapardi – Baruchi, who have never advocated heretical teachings.

4.2. Sri Ramanuja acknowledges these six teachers as ancient authorities whose views are acceptable to him. And, in particular, he quotes quite often from the works ascribed to Tanaka and Dramida.

4.3. After mentioning that his own explanations of the Brahma Sutras would be in accordance with the interpretations provided by these ancient teachers, Sri Ramanuja commences his Sri Bhashya with the discussion on the first Sutra of the Brahma Sutra: Atato Brahma jignasaha. Thereafter, the words of the Sutra are taken up, one after the other, for examination of their context, meaning and grammar. He then gives the Vakyartha of the Sutra, the meaning that is conveyed by the Sutra as a whole. And, then he delves into the philosophical interpretations of the Sutras in accordance with the views of these ancient teachers of his tradition.

4.4. But, very little is known about these ancient seers. And, sadly, their works too have not survived. Though their names are recited by Sri Yamuna and Sri Ramanuja we do not know the Acharya-paramapara between these Masters named as Purva-charyas.

5.1. Before coming back to Bodhayana the Vrttikara, let’s try to find what little is known about the Purva-charyas of Sri Ramanuja’s tradition.

Tanaka

Tanaka also known as Brahmanandin or Nandin is described as Atreya or Atrivamsiya (descendent of Sage Atri). He is usually referred to with the epithet Vakyakara, the author. Tanaka, well versed in the field of Vedanta, is said to have written commentaries on both the Chandogya Upanishad and the Brahma-sutras. All his works are lost. But his sayings are quoted by the later scholars.  His time is estimated to be around 550 AD; which is, after Bodhayana, but before Dramida, Brhatprapancha and Sri Sankara.

At the beginning of his commentary (Sribhashya) on the Brahma Sutra, Sri Ramanuja explains meditation (Dhyana) taught in the Upanishads as an un-interrupted continuous stream of thought or remembrance (Smrti) like a stream of poured out oil. Then he quotes the Vakyakara (Tanaka) :

Knowledge (Vedana) which is the means to release is worship (Upasana).  When carrying out the Upasana, the object of meditation should be Brahman with attributes, endowed with many virtues.  In order to complete the Prajna based meditation, cleansing of the body and mind is necessary. For this, seven types of preparations are prescribed. The meditation on Brahman, with these preparations, the attainment of emancipation is made possible.

And, he goes on to say that the worship should be continuous. Having explained that, he   says that   in order to gain knowledge one must perform throughout one’s life the various actions (Karma) prescribed in the scriptures.

 Hence, Tanaka emphasized the union of knowledge and action, which later came to be known as: Jnana-karma-samucchaya-vada.  He was opposed to the notion of instantaneous enlightenment.

In Tanaka’s work the relationship between Brahman and the phenomenal world is likened to that between the ocean and its foam. Sri Ramanuja states that Tanaka puts forth Parinama-vada and explains the phenomenal world arising out of Brahman like Dadhi (coagulated milk) from milk.

If we can try to summarize Tanaka’s views :

Brahman is the Atman of all and everything is pervaded by Brahman; That which exists in the space within the heart, the golden person seen in the eye and so on which are discussed in the Upanishads refer to Brahman. Its essence is pure consciousness Prajna. It is eternal and has a form which is beyond the senses; yet, it resides in everything and controls the desires of all the deities and beings. Thus, Tanaka, it seems, held that each of the individual selves corresponds to the body of Brahman.

Dravida

Dravida (also Dramida) is respectfully referred to as Dramidacharya, the Bhashyakara or Bhashyakrt, the commentator par excellence. His views are often cited by Sri Ramanuja in Sribhashya and in Vedarthasamgraha. Dravida is said to have written a commentary on Brahma Sutra as also commentaries on Chandogya Upanishad and Mandukya Upanishad. Dravida was later than Tanaka, as Dramida is said to have written a Bhashya on the Vakyas of Tanaka (Brahmanandi – virachitam vakyanam sutra-rupanam bhashyakarta Dravidacharyo api).

Sri Sankara also cites Dravida as an authority at the beginning of his commentary on Chandogya Upanishad (3.10).

It is said; Dravida explained Brahman as the absolute principle, creator of the universe (Visva-srj); as the Supreme Divinity (Para-devata) having internal attributes (Antarguna); and, as Lord of the world (Lokeshvara) who creates the phenomenal world and regulates all the worlds.

Dravida did not seem to make a distinction between Brahman and Isvara. Brahman or Isvara’s relation to the universe is compared to that of a King with his Kingdom. The theistic doctrine of liberation is presented on the basis of relation between the Lord and the individual self.

According to Dravida the Highest Self and individual self belong to the same genus (Jati) just as the sparks coming out of the fire but are not identical.

The individual self purified from all taints by performing meditation is liberated by the grace of the Lord; and then attains union with the Lord. The liberation according to Dravida is that the individual self residing in peace with the Highest Self; and that is granted by the grace of the Lord.

And, while it is with the Lord, the individual self still retains its identity as before. Though it is in union with the Highest Self, it does not possess the powers of creation, sustenance and dissolution. On this point Tanaka and Dravida are one; and it is close to the doctrine of Sri Ramanuja.

Bharuchi

Bharuchi (Baruchi) said to be an ancient scholar on Vedanta. Traditionally, he is placed before Dramidacharya. He is said to have held the view that Samkhya and Yoga as two systems that complement each other. Bharuchi, it seems, also advocated combination of knowledge (Jnana) and action (Karma)- Jnana-karma-samucchaya . Sri Ramanuja held Bharuchi in high esteem; but, does not explicitly quote any of his views.

Bharuchi is also recognized as an author or a commentator on Dharmasatra. He is said to have written a commentary on certain chapters (first four chapters, parts of chapter 5 and verses of later chapters) of Manusmrti. He is also credited with commentary on Vishnudharmasutra. Bharuchi is mentioned as an authority   in Vijnaneshvara’s Mithakshara on Yajnavalkya-smrti ; and, in Sri Madhvacharya’s Tika on Parasara-samhita. One of his quotations also occurs in the commentary composed on the Apastamba Grhyasutra by Sudarshana Suri, a teacher of Visishtadvaita Vedanta.

However, none of his works on Vedanta has survived. Vishal Agarwal, a noted scholar, has attempted to reconstruct Bharuci’s views on Vedanta issues as gleamed from the comments on certain verses of Manusmrti.  According to that:

(a) Bharuchi appeared to have believed in the combination of action and knowledge as essential for salvation. Bharuchi says: in all the stages of life, combination of knowledge and action is to be known as the means of attaining Brahmaloka. Performing rites such as Agnihotra, regularly all through one’s life is obligatory no matter whether one takes Sanyasa or not.

(b) Bharuchi seemed to believe in a distinction between Jivas and Brahman. Bharuchi supports the Samkhya doctrine of duality of Purusha and Pradhana.

 (c) Bharuchi appears to believe that the soul is ‘nirguna’ in the sense that it does not have Gunas such as: sattva, rajas and tamas. However, Bharuchi believes in the duality of souls and matter in the effected world.

And

(d): Bharuchi refers to the distinction between dualists and non-dualists amongst Vedantins.

In summary, it appears that Bharuchi’s Vedantic views resembled those of Sri Ramanuja, Bhaskara Bhatta and other non-Advaitins, more than they resembled the views of Advaita Vedanta.

[For more, please check:

http://vishalagarwal.bharatvani.org/articles/acharyas/Bharuchi/index.htm ]

Guhadeva

Guhadeva and Kapardin were said to be ancient Vedanta teachers and authors. The two were referred to by Sri Ramanuja as Sista– wise and erudite. But, nothing much is known these scholars; and Sri Ramanuja does not also seem to quote from their works.

As regards Guhadeva, some scholars surmise:  if Guhadeva mentioned by Sri Ramanuja is the same as the ancient scholar Guhasvamin, then it is possible that he could be the one who flourished during the first century B.C.E; and, to whom the commentaries on the Apastamba-shrautasutra and the Taittiraya-aranyaka are attributed.

Kapardin

Kapardin is a peculiar name. It does not seem to be the proper name of the person. It is a descriptive term. Kapardin indicates one who has matted, braided hair or hair twisted into a bun on top (Kapardakapardi) – jatilo mundah smasänagrhasevakah I ugra vratadharo Rudro yogi tripuradärunah II. Rudra is often addressed as Kapardin (E.g. Ima Rudraya tavase Kapardine – RV.1.114.1 – Rudra with hair knotted like Kaparda , a cowry shell  )   .

And, it seems during the Vedic times some men and women sported braids or plaits of hair. For instance; a woman having four plaits of hair was called Chatush-kapardin; and, the Vasithas wearing their hair in a plait on the right side were known as Dakshinatas – kaparda. [Ref: Vedic Index of Names and Subjects, Volume 1; Volume 5 by Arthur Berriedale Keith]

It is also said; a certain Kapardin (Ca. 800-25 A.D.) assisted a Rashtrakuta Chieftain in extending his rule in the region due to which act the region came to be known in his honour as KapardikaDvipa or KavadiDvipa.  The term Kapardika Dvipa occurs in the inscriptions of the Kadamba Kings who ruled over Goa and Banavasi region of North Karnataka. Some surmise that the name of the strip along the west coast – Konkan, may have derived from Kapardika.

In the context of Vedanta texts, Karpadi might refer to a sage who is said to have written commentaries on the texts of the Taittiriya (Apastamba) Shakha of the Krishna Yajurveda. We do not know if Sri Ramanuja was referring to this Kapardin. In any case nothing much is known about the commentator Kapardin.

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Ramanuja

6.1. As said earlier, even though Bodhayana is quoted only about seven times in Sribhashya, each of those fragments expresses a particular aspect of Bodhayana’s thought. In the Sribhashya, Bodhayana is usually referred to as Vrttikara, the author of the Vrtti.

6.2. In his interpretation of the first sutra of the Brahma sutra (athāto Brahma jijñāsā: BS: 1.1.1), Sri Ramanuja explains: ‘Therefore, the Vrttikara says: immediately after acquiring the knowledge of the rituals, the enquiry into the Brahman is to be undertaken. He later will declare that Karma-Mimamsa and Brahma-Mimamsa together constitute one-body of doctrine (shastra), saying: The Sariraka (that is Brahma sutra) is combined with the sixteen chapters of Jaimini School. It is thus established that the two constitute one body of doctrine”. (Samhitam etac sarirakam Jaiminiyena sodasa-lakshne-neti shastraikatva siddhih)

Bodhayana is quoted to support the interpretation that the two Mimamsas are indeed parts of one text; and to establish the unity of karma and Jnana (Jana-Karma-samucchaya).

***

 

6.3. Next, Sri Ramanuja takes up a quotation from Vrttikara’s Brahma Sutra Vrtti: Vrttir api “jagad-vyapara-varjam samano jyothisho” iti (Sribhasyha). This passage is taken from Vrttikara’s commentary on Brahma Sutra (4. 4.17).  The Sutra (4.4.17) jagadvyāpāravarjam, prakaraāt, asamnihitatvācca, in effect, says the released soul attains all powers of the Lord (Isvara) except the powers of creation etc.

Sri Ramanuja explains:  The commentary (Vrtti) also says: In the state of final release, the individual self is equal (samano) to the Highest light- jyothisho (Brahman), except for the cosmic actions ( of creation, of maintenance and of dissolution of the universe). (Jagad-vyapara-varjam samano jyothisho)

[A similar explanation is also attributed to Bhashyakara Dramida: Since the emancipated individual self is in union with the Divine, although it has no physical body, like the divine it can accomplish all purposes – “Devata-sayujyad asarirasyapi devatavat sarva-artha-siddhis syat “]

***

6.4. In the Chandogya Upanishad (6.8.1) the philosopher Uddalaka Aruni is said to have taught his son Svetaketu:

“My Dear, understand from me the true nature of sleep. When a person is absorbed in dreamless sleep (svapiti) he is one with the Being (Sat), he has returned to his self (svam apitah), though he knows it not. Therefore, they say of him “he sleeps (svpiti), for he has gone to his self (svam apitah).

Uddalako harunih svetaketum putram uvaca,
svapnantam me, saumya, vijanihiti, yatraitat
purushah svapiti nama, sata, saumya, tada
sampanno bhavati svam apito bhavati, tasmadenam
svapitity-acakshate svam he apito bhavati.

As a tethered bird grows tired of flying about in vain to find a place of rest and settles down at last on its own perch, so the mind, tired of wandering about hither and thither, settles down at last in the Self, dear one, to whom it is bound. All creatures, dear one, have their source in That. That is their home; That is their strength. There is nothing that does not come from That. Of everything That is the inmost Self. That is the truth; the Self supreme. You are That, Svetaketu; you are That.” (Ch.Up.6.8.1-2)”

Sa yatha sakunih sutrena prabaddho disam disam
patit-vanyatrayatanam-alabdhva bandhanam
evopasrayate, evam eva khalu, saumya tan mano
disam disam patit-vanyatrayatanam-alabdhva
pranam evopasrayate prana bandhanam hi, saumya, mana iti.

Sri Ramanuja notes the interpretation of the Vrttikara on this passage of the Chandogya Upanishad (6.8.1) at 1.1.10 of Sribhashya:

Therefore, the Vrttikara (meaning Bodhayana) says (tad aha Vrttikarah): “The passage, ‘he has become one with the Being (Sat) ‘, is established by the fact that the beings become one with Sat (Being = Brahman) and again are separated from Sat. And the scripture describing deep sleep says. ‘Just as a man embraced by his beloved wife is aware of nothing external or internal, so also this Purusha (the individual self) when embraced by the intelligent-self (Prajna-atman) is aware of nothing external or internal’,”

[tad aha Vrttikarah – ‘sata somya tada sampanno bhavatiti samapt-tasya-samapttibhyam etad adhyavastyate; prajnenatmana samparisvaktah – iti caha’ iti]

***

6.5. In explaining Brahma Sutra (1.2.1) [Savatra-prasiddhopadesat, – the being which consists of mind is Sat (Brahman)] Sri Ramanuja says that the famous sage Shandilya in Chandogya Upanishad (3.14) teaches not the individual self, but the highest Self. He then quotes the Vrttikara, who says: “And all this is indeed Brahman. Brahman the self of all is the Lord (Isha).” (Sarvam khilva iti sarvatma brahmesah)

[A similar statement is attributed to Vakyakara Tanaka: All beings are achieved by Atman – Aymety eva tu grhniyat sarvasya tannispatter iti.  The realization that Atman is identical with Brahman will destroy all bondages together with its causes.]

***

6.6. While commenting on the famous passage in Chandogya Upanishad (7.24.1)yatra na anyat pashyati, na anyah srunoti, na anyath vijananathi sa Bhumah – which declares “where one sees nothing else; hears nothing else; cognizes nothing else, that is the infinite (Brahman). But, where one sees something else; hears something else; cognizes something else, that is small (finite)”, Sri Ramanuja (BS: 1.3.7) explains that ‘Infinite Bhuma’ here is the Supreme Self; and is not the individual self.

Yatra nanyat pasyati nanyac-chrnoti nanyadvijanati
sa bhuma, atha yatranyat pasyati anyacchrnoti
anyadvijanati tad-alpam; yo vai bhuma tadamrtam,
atha yadalpam tan-martyam, sa,
bhagavah, kasmin pratisthita iti, sve mahimni, yadi  va na mahimniti.

 In support of explanation, Sri Ramanuja quotes the Vrttikara, who says: “that infinite Bhuma, which Chandogya declares, is the highest Brahman. First, the name is mentioned then a series up to the infinite, and then the Atman is taught”

(Bhuma tu eveti bhumaparam Brahma, namadi paramparayati-mana urdhvam asyopadeshat) 

***

6.7. In regard to the honey-doctrine (madhu vidya) which occurs in the third Book of Chandogya Upanishad (3. 1-5)  Sri Ramanuja comments (BS: 1.3.32) : This is a teaching that one who meditates in accordance with the doctrine becomes the god Vasu, the god Aditya  and the others; and, he ultimately can reach Brahman. Though it might seem like meditation on the forms of sun, its real meaning is to meditate on those forms leading to meditation on Brahman”.

Then, he quotes the Vrttikara who says: “It is Brahman that has to be meditated upon in regard to all things. Verily, this applies to Madhu Vidya also” (tad aha Vrttikarah – ‘asti hi madhu vidyeshu sambhavo Brahmana eva sarvatra nicayyatvat iti’)

The import of the Vrttikara’s comment is understood to be that the various forms of worship taught in the Upanishads are truly directing towards meditation on Brahman (Asti hi madhu vidyeshu sambhavo Brahmana eva sarvatra nicayyatvati)

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7.1. The above seven quotations are the only ones from the Vrttikara in Sri Ramanuja’s Sri Bhashya.

 [The views of a certain Vrttikara are also cited in Sri Sankara’s Brahma-sutra-bhashya, but they are presented as the ‘other’ or the opposing view

It is generally believed that the Vrttikara whom Sri Sankara rejects and the Vrttikara that Sri Ramanuja accepts is the same person, despite lack of definite proof.

However, the problem arises when the views of the Vrttikara as rejected by Sri Sankara are not the same as quoted by Sri Ramanuja. ]

8.1. In the next part let’s try to reconstruct Bodhayana’s thoughts or philosophical outlook based on his comments/explanations as quoted in Sribhashya of Sri Ramanuja.

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Continued

In the

Next Part

Sources and References

  1. 1. A History of Early Vedānta Philosophy, Volume 2; by Hajime Nakamura
  2. The Vedanta-sutras with the Sri-bhashya of Ramanujacharya; translated into English by M. Rangacharya, and M. B. Varadaraja Aiyangar; Volume I; published by the Brahmavidin Press.; 1899
  3. http://www.yousigma.com/biographies/vedasutraswithsribhashya.pdf
 
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Posted by on October 1, 2015 in Bodhayana-Upavarsha

 

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